If your pooch suffers from anxiety or true hyperactivity, your vet can prescribe medication to calm him down. She'll go over his medical history to make sure it's not a physical issue causing his actions. However, medication only treats the symptoms, not the problem. Along with medicating Fido, look into behavioral training to deal with the situation.
When taking your dog to the vet for evaluation because of behavioral issues, write down the problems you're dealing with beforehand so you don't leave anything out. Your vet might choose a particular medication based on your dog's actions. Does he destroy household items and furniture? Does he freak out during thunderstorms or if hears loud noises? Is he just so high-strung that he's impossible to deal with? Based on what you tell her and her own examination, your vet might prescribe either a tranquilizer or anti-anxiety drug. Whatever medication she prescribes, ask about possible side effects and keep an eye out for any physical or unwelcome behavioral changes after your dog starts taking the medication. If your dog experiences side effects, contact your vet as soon as possible.
Though you're probably aware that Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) help humans relax, did you know that vets also prescribe these drugs in the appropriate dosage for canine patients? Another commonly used tranquilizer for dogs is acepromazine, manufactured under the brand name PromAce. These medications are used specifically for calming canines. PromAce has the advantage of lasting as long as 8 hours. It also stabilizes the heart rate of an extremely nervous animal. If your pup suffers from panic disorders, such as fear of thunder, Xanax is probably the drug of choice, as Ace might make a dog even more sensitive to loud noises.
If separation anxiety is the issue -- or constant barking -- an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication might be prescribed. Some of the common anti-anxiety medication used for dogs include Buspar (buspirone hydrochloride), Clomicalm (clomipramine) and Elavil (smitriptyline). These drugs don't make Fido drowsy as tranquilizer might, but work by releasing chemicals in his brain that increase his feelings of well-being.
Unlike some of the other medications your vet might prescribe for Fido, Reconcile was developed specifically for dogs and has federal Food and Drug Administration approval. Containing fluoxetine hydrochloride, the same medication found in the human anti-depressant Prozac, Reconcile treats separation anxiety, but is designed for use in conjunction with behavioral modification training.
If you want something to take the edge off your dog's anxiety or activity, certain over-the-counter supplements might do the trick. Always check with your vet before giving your dog any supplements. Herbal products containing chamomile or valerian might help Fido mellow out. You might also try canine pheromones, designed to smell like mama dogs, giving your dog a sense of security. Don't worry -- only dogs can smell it, so your whole house won't end up smelling like a female canine.
By Jane Meggitt
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.